Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 8 2019 - Isaiah 43 – Israel's only Saviour

In this remarkable chapter the Lord tells his people not to be afraid for he is not only the one who created them, he is also the one who has redeemed them and called them to be his own (v. 1). He will protect his people and bring them through all the trials that may lie before them:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze. (v. 2)

The Lord their Saviour rescued them in the past from Egypt, defeated its power and demonstrated that the gods of Egypt were helpless in the face of the living God (v. 3). Indeed, God's great love for his people means that he will do whatever is necessary to bring them safely into their inheritance (v. 4). They need not be afraid, for God, their God, is with them and will rescue them from the nations among which they are scattered – even "from the ends of the earth" – that he might bring glory to his own name (vv. 5-7).

The themes of these first seven verses are repeated in verses 14-28. The people whom he redeemed from Egypt, making "a way through the sea" for them (v. 16), and destroying the chariots and army that were pursuing them (v. 17), have burdened God with their sins (v. 24 – see vv. 22-24). But God remains faithful and gracious:

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake,
    and remembers your sins no more.  (v. 25)

Note that God promises to forgive them for his own sake. He is determined to glorify his own name by rescuing this rebellious people. What he is about to do will make their ancient rescue from Egypt pale into insignificance (v. 18). God is about to do a new thing (v. 19), making a way through the wilderness for them and providing them with streams in the wasteland that will give life to his people and prompt a thankful response even from wild animals (v. 20).

And God will do all of this for the glory of his own name and that his people may praise him (v. 21). In verses 8-13, Isaiah imagines a great gathering of Israel and the nations in which God issues a challenge for those who worship any other god to show what their god has done for them. Has any other god been able to steer the course of history to rescue those who offer it their worship and devotion? Has any other god been able to foretell the course of history? Faced with silence, God calls his people, led by the Lord's Servant, to act as witnesses to all that he has done for them (v. 10). There is no other god (v. 10), and no other saviour (v. 12).

This chapter is full of precious promises which are also promises to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that we cannot plead our innocence before God (v. 26). But, in grace, the living God has done more than sacrifice nations to redeem us; he sacrificed his own beloved Son. He who created us has redeemed us at great cost and has promised to bring us safely into the inheritance he is preparing for us. We too can rejoice in the promises of this chapter. And we too are called to be witnesses to those who have not known the saving goodness of our God – bearing witness to all he has done for us in Christ and urging others to leave their idols and discover the great salvation that the living God alone can provide.

Loving heavenly Father, we rejoice in the salvation that is ours through Jesus your Son and that you have promised with him to give us all things. Fill us with joy and peace as we trust in you and in the promises of your word. Help us by your Spirit to bear witness to your saving power and to the living hope which is grounded in Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Use our testimony to draw many others to you, that your name and the precious name of the Lord Jesus may be praised and glorified. 

Peter Misselbrook